The Oval Room at the Museum of Modern Art on Naoshima, Japan (2004)
The structure on the island of Naoshima is something of a museum of Tadao Ando's work. In his own words, he placed a concrete box in an old burrow underground. The oval hall has a ceiling with a slightly rounded vault and a huge window in the center. One of its walls is aligned with the main axis of the main building and sloped toward the centerline, giving the impression of a completely open structure.
The room is lit by natural light only. Ando set out to create a space that, while fairly compact, seemed incredibly deep. Here the contrasting elements – past and present, wood and concrete, light and shadow – endlessly overlap.
Museum of Contemporary Art in Fort Worth, Texas, USA (2002)
It is one of Ando's most famous constructions, characterized by the presence of massive Y-shaped concrete pillars that reflect in a pool of 6,000 m2. The five flat-roofed pavilions look as if they grew straight out of the water.
Constructed from simple materials and rendered in a monochrome palette, they do not compete for the viewer's attention with the landscape and the works on view, yet they form a single, elegant composition.
Glass walls, as a physical barrier between indoor and outdoor spaces, are almost invisible to the eye. At the same time, the light reflected from the water surface creates fascinating reflections on the walls.
Water Church in Hokkaido, Japan (1988)
The pool, a classic example of Ando's work, is positioned so that parishioners inside the church look directly at it.
In the center of the pool is a simple cross. The church is comprised of two overlapping cubes: an entrance structure of steel and glass, and a main structure serving as a chapel. The glass wall overlooking the pool can move apart, weather permitting. Not surprisingly, Ando's Church on Water is one of the most popular wedding venues in Japan.
Poly Grand Theater in Shanghai, China (2014)
The openings cut into the walls of glass and concrete make the Poly Grand Theater unlike any other. An artificial lake set along two walls makes Ando's creation a new landmark in Shanghai.
Intricate wall openings are reflected in the water – the tunnel exits that run through the 56,000 m2 of space from different angles to form a fantastically dynamic interior. In this way the outer outline of the building seems quite normal, while inside hides an amazing cylindrical structure.
Hansol Museum in Wonju, South Korea (2013)
Located on a mountain top near Chiaksan National Park in Gangwon Province, the Hansol Museum aims to unite nature and art.
The centerpiece of its exhibit is the personal collection of local paper tycoon Lee In Hee. Various monumental structures are set directly above the surface of the artificial pond. Reflecting in it, works of modern art, among which there is, for example, a spectacular red sculpture called Archway by Alexander Lieberman, seem to float in the air.
The abundance of water is balanced by the surrounding forest, as well as the stone garden on the museum grounds, which is a reference to the Royal Grave Mounds of Silla, a Korean architectural landmark in Gyeongju. Water surrounds all the elements of the complex built in limestone and concrete.
The Aurora Museum in Shanghai, China (2013)
Another private collection is on display in the six-story Aurora Museum in Shanghai. It is a restored historic building that has housed ancient examples of Chinese art and artifacts over the years.
And only recently the museum got a minimalist extension designed by Tadao Ando. One of the walls will be glazed, divided into multiple square sections. The adjoining artificial pond provides a smooth transition from the new structure to the old one. The building that Ando built hosts contemporary art exhibitions.
Maritime Museum in Abu Dhabi, UAE (project)
The Maritime Museum, the construction of which has not even started yet, aims to highlight the importance of the Persian Gulf in the lives of people living in the United Emirates. The structure will have sharp outlines and expressive geometry.It's meant to resemble a composition of sails rising out of the surface of the water, which would of course encircle the museum on all sides.
Ando comments on his project as follows:
"A sculptural building floats above the plane of the sea and frames a magnificent view of the bay along the coast of Saadiyat Island. Inside, there is a dynamically structured space evoking the bottom of a boat.
Master Ando's work can serve as a prime example of how a well-designed artificial lake can make an architectural object inimitable.
Which of the structures shown here do you like best?